Open and Closed Word Classes
Some word classes are OPEN, that is, new words can be added to the class as the need arises. The class of nouns, for instance, is potentially infinite, since it is continually being expanded as new scientific discoveries are made, new products are developed, and new ideas are explored. In the late twentieth century, for example, developments in computer technology have given rise to many new nouns: Internet, website, URL, CD-ROM, email, newsgroup, bitmap, modem, multimedia New verbs have also been introduced:
download, upload, reboot, right-click, double-click
The adjective and adverb classes can also be expanded by the addition of new words, though less prolifically. On the other hand, we never invent new prepositions, determiners, or conjunctions. These classes include words like of, the, and but. They are called CLOSED word classes because they are made up of finite sets of words which are never expanded (though their members may change their spelling, for example, over long periods of time). The subclass of pronouns, within the open noun class, is also closed. Words in an open class are known as open-class items. Words in a closed class are known as closed-class items. In the pages which follow, we will look in detail at each of the seven major word classes. Open vs. close –class words – English editing.
Open class words, commonly referred as content words, are those belonging to the major part of speech like noun, verbs, adjective and adverbs. These words include brother, run, tall, quickly etc. In contrast, closed class words are those belonging to grammatical, or function, classes like articles, demonstrative, quantifiers, conjunctions and prepositions. It tends to include a small number of fixed elements. Function words in English include conjunction like (and, or), articles (a, the), demonstrators (this, that), quantifiers (most, few) or prepositions (to, after) etc. The difference between open class words and close class words lies in use of telegraphic language. Generally, in telegraphic language, open class words are retained but close class words omitted. For Scientific english editing and Medical Writing Services visitwww.manuscriptedit.com closed- and open-class items (function words, grammar words) • All English words can be classified as belonging to a “closed class” or an “open class.” (Closed-class words are also called “function words” or “grammar words” and open-class words are also called “lexical words” or “content words.” Closed classes are called “closed” because new words are seldom added to them. By contrast, new items are regularly added to the open classes. The entire noun word class is made up of closed-class items as is the entire sub-class of full verbs. All determiners, pronouns, conjunctions, prepositions are closed class. The adverb word class is partly open and partly closed.) • closed classes and meaning:
The meaning of an open-class item such as a noun or a verb can be given in a dictionary where words are defined in isolation. By contrast, the meaning of closed-class words cannot be explained in isolation because it is tied up with the grammatical structures that they are part of. This is particularly true of determiners and primary verbs. For example, any explanation of the “meaning” of the article, “the” will have to focus on the fact that the word is used to introduce a certain type of noun phrase; and likewise, any explanation of the meaning of the primary verb “do” will have to stress the role it plays in forming questions and negative statements. Correct use of modal auxiliaries requires an understanding of how they operate in complex verb phrases even though the distinctions between them can be seen as a matter of difference in “dictionary” meaning. Conjunctions are similar in that they share the important grammatical function of marking coordination or subordination even though they all have meanings which extend beyond that...
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